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Invention and innovation: An introduction

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This free course, Invention and innovation: An introduction, is for designers, engineers, technologists and anyone interested in designing and inventing. It is also for managers and consumers interested in innovation and technical change. The course will show you how design and innovation can create a more sustainable future. It will also help you understand how innovation comes about and will encourage thinking about environmental and social challenges for the future.

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • explain invention, design, innovation and diffusion as ongoing processes with a range of factors affecting success at each stage;
  • explain how particular products you use have a history of invention and improvement, and appreciate the role that you and your family, as consumers, have played in this history;
  • define key concepts such as invention, design, innovation, diffusion, product champion, entrepreneur, sustaining and disruptive innovation;
  • explain the role of intellectual property in invention and innovation and list the various ways that inventors can protect their ideas;
  • identify the range of reasons that motivate individuals and organisations to invent;
  • explain the creative process by which individuals come up with ideas for new designs and inventions;
  • explain the technology push, market pull, and coupling models of the innovation process and decide how well they offer a satisfactory explanation of the innovation process;
  • identify and discuss the technical, financial and organisational obstacles that have to be overcome to bring an invention to the market;
  • discuss the importance of choosing an appropriate design, materials and manufacturing process for a particular new product;
  • explain the factors that influence how well an innovation will sell and how rapidly it is likely to diffuse into the market;
  • give examples of disruptive innovations that can introduce a new way of operating in a particular industry, that can challenge existing companies and that can open up new markets for innovative products.

By: The Open University

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Invention and innovation: an introduction

Introduction

Unit image

This unit aims to provide an understanding of invention, design, innovation and diffusion as ongoing processes with a range of factors affecting success at each stage. You will gain an understanding of the factors that motivate individuals and organisations to invent, and the creative process by which individuals come up with ideas for new inventions and designs, and you will gain an understanding of the obstacles that have to be overcome to bring an invention to market and the factors that influence the successful diffusion of an innovation into widespread use.

In Part 1 I invite you to look around at the technological products in your home or at work and consider their development history and their impact on the lives of you and your family. I then define the key concepts associated with the process of invention, design, innovation and diffusion.

Part 2 considers what motivates individuals and organisations to invent in the first place and how individuals come up with ideas for new designs and inventions.

Part 3 examines how technical, financial and organisational obstacles have to be overcome in order to bring an invention to the market. Once on the market a number of factors influence how well an innovation will sell.

This free course is an adapted extract from the Open University course T307 Innovation: designing for a sustainable future, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

The Open University is conducting a survey investigating how people use the free educational content on our OpenLearn website. The aim is to provide a better free learning experience for everyone. So if you’re a regular user of OpenLearn and have 10 minutes to spare, we’d be delighted if you could take part and tell us what you think. Please note this will take you out of OpenLearn, we suggest you open this in a new tab by right clicking on the link and choosing open in a new tab.

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